As a Swiss Association, IYLC is based in the long-time heart of diplomatic world. Geneva, our home town, is also one of the most international of European cities with a great mix of cultures and nationalities. Our coaches, mentors and trainers have extensive professional experience working in multinational companies, UN and NGO’s and start-ups across Europe. From our experience working with students from all over the world who seek education or employment in the European arena, we know that developing cultural awareness has become an essential part of the education-to-employment journey.
Many companies appreciate diverse backgrounds and actively seek out those for many roles due to the inherent expertise and understanding that the diverse employees can contribute. At the same time when working in a particular country or region some awareness of the local culture is expected. These are very often unwritten rules, beliefs or expectations that someone with little experience in that culture might yet not be fully aware of.
Breaking these unwritten rules can cause problems particularly in interview situations. When you are expected to describe some of your achievements for example you might want to choose “culturally” accepted examples rather than what is common in your country. When you are asked for what you look for in a manager… how do you answer?
- Understanding cultural differences allows you better perform in multinational environments and collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds. There are some basic taboos in some countries about the very same subject matter, which may be very common and normal in another. Learn about those most common pitfalls to ensure that next time you meet someone from that background at a networking, interview or business meeting occasion you play to them.
- Learning about cultural boundaries will help you succeed in an organisation. When you join an organisation, you want to make sure to integrate well and build a positive reputation. There will be delicate situations when there is no simple clear-cut answer; in this case cultural awareness will help you navigate the situation based on the values, and beliefs of that particular environment.
- Making the most of cultures by developing awareness will help you in any situation if you can read between those lines. Knowing what little expressions, gestures, and triggers can help your message be understood is key to getting the best performance out of a team.
Many people in the world focus on developing cultural awareness and it is a common topic for training and development. It is a requirement today to be able to navigate yourself tactfully across different cultures and also know how to close the deal with someone. You will learn and apply how to meet and greet people, how to interact, what core beliefs they have but also which topics to be sensitive about.
Students have the opportunity to study:
- The use of language. Ranging from the French verbal sword fight, the Japanese and English use of humour and under-statement (the English may quietly say “well excuse me” when meaning something quite opposite.)
- Cultural use of time. Some cultures multi-task and others are more linear in their approach. Doing one thing at a time according to a written agenda might seem logical to a northern European whilst Latin-root cultures may instinctively prefer to address several issues at once and to jump around the now obsolete written agenda.
- Management and Delegation is very different between cultures. The directness of orders from a manager to an employee can vary hugely and cultural training can help both the manager in working with their international team and also the team members in understanding what each team leader wants and how urgently.